Evans ends Djokovic's perfect 2021 start

·3-min read

Novak Djokovic has been knocked out sensationally in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters, seeing his unbeaten season's record evaporate when he was "dismantled" by Britain's Dan Evans.

Evans, whose first-round win had been his first on clay at tour level for four years, had never beaten a top-six player before - but he put on a brilliant performance against a below-par Djokovic to win 6-4 7-5 on Thursday.

Rafael Nadal had no such problems later, breezing past Grigor Dimitrov 6-1 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals of a tournament he has won a record 11 times.

The world No.1 Djokovic was playing only his second match since winning the Australian Open in February and reckoned he had played a woeful match in the cool and windy conditions.

Djokovic, while praising Evans, admitted afterwards: "This has been probably one of the worst matches and performances from my side I can recall in the last years.

"I don't want to take anything away from his win but, from my side, I just felt awful on the court overall. Just nothing worked. It's one of those days.

"I can't take anything positive away from this match. It's not the first, neither the last, loss but definitely leaves a bitter feeling exiting the court this way."

Djokovic, who had won his first 10 matches of the season, was shocked by the excellence of an opponent who had gone into the tournament on a four-match losing streak.

"Congratulations to him. I mean, he deserved to win. He's got a really all-around game. He's really a nice player to watch - not a great player to play against. Lots of talent. He's very unpredictable with his shots. He dismantled my game."

Evans revealed Djokovic had given him some extra motivation, saying: "He kept me waiting in the changing rooms before the match so that was a little annoying, got me a little extra fired up.

"It's one against one, got to roll the balls out and see who wins. He gave me some cheap ones today, which he never normally does, so I was a little lucky there, but I'm just really happy with coming through."

Djokovic looked very rusty initially, losing the first three games before improving significantly and pulling back to 4-4 but Evans grabbed another break to gain the chance to serve for the set, and he clinched it on his third chance.

The Serbian moved into a 3-0 lead in the second set, but he still did not look entirely comfortable and back came the British player to level at 3-3.

Djokovic kept the pressure on but Evans did not buckle and, at 5-5, it was the top seed who double-faulted to hand his opponent the break.

That gave the 30-year-old the chance to serve for the win of his life and he took it to move into the quarter-finals of a Masters event for the first time, where he will face David Goffin, who had earlier knocked out Alexander Zverev 6-4 7-6 (9-7).

In other third-round matches, No.4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced 6-3 6-4 against Cristian Garin and the big-serving Greek will meet Alejandro Davidovich Fokina after he beat wildcard Lucas Pouille 6-2 7-6 (7-2).

Italy's reigning Monte Carlo champion Fabio Fognini also progressed, beating Filip Krajinovic 6-2 7-6 (7-1).